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Aug 24, 2017 3:54 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

UPDATE: East Hampton Football Players, Parents, Are Rallying To Save Season

East Hampton went 1-7 last season, winning its season finale at Mercy. CAILIN RILEY
Aug 28, 2017 12:48 PM

UPDATE: Monday, 12:16 p.m.

East Hampton's football players and parents are not giving up on their season just yet.

The players are looking to stage a rally and one last attempt to save their season at tonight's fall student-athlete meeting at East Hampton High School scheduled for 6 p.m. According to social media accounts and other online activity, the players have recruited more players and they feel that the school made a premature decision to cancel the season.

On Saturday, a parent of one of the players, Cathy Lavelle, started a petition at gopetition.com titled, "Bring Bonac Football Back." It's targeted at the East Hampton School Board and athletic department.

The petition states: "On Thursday, August 24, 2017 the East Hampton School officials cancelled the football program due to low enrollment stating to the press that "the decision to pull the plug this week was made so that the players who were turning out for football practices could switch to other fall sports if they wished." There was no discussion with the parents and very little with the players in regards to this. Within less the 24 hours the program was completely shut down. A majority of the team have voiced that they do not want to play another fall sport, they want to play football. As of Friday evening the kids have recruited at least 5 more players. After speaking with a majority of the football parents, they have stated that they were in agreement that this was done prematurely with no communication with us. Please sign this petition, we need as many signatures as possible in the next few days to show that the community supports our kids and their efforts to bring football back to Bonac ONLY if we can get enough players, with experience, recruited by Monday evening. We support our coaches 110% along with all administration and our Board of Education. Safety always comes first. This is not an attack on anyone but a request for a reconsideration of decision by the Board of Education and Joe Vasile-Cozzo, the athletic director IF we can bring enough experienced players to the team by Monday evening. We are just trying to help our kids do what they love...safely. Please share on social media, whether near or far every signature counts."

As of 12:10 p.m. Monday, the petition had 168 signatures and was gaining steam across social media platforms.


There will be no football this fall at East Hampton High School following a decision by school officials on Wednesday to drop both its varsity and junior varsity programs due to severely low enrollment numbers.

According to athletic director Joe Vasile-Cozzo, 14 players were showing up to varsity preseason practices, with another nine showing up for JV. Those numbers simply weren’t going to cut it, Vasile-Cozzo said, especially in a highly competitive Division III, which the Bonackers would have played in this season. The school petitioned this past winter to move down to Division IV, but it was denied by Section XI, the governing body of Suffolk County high school athletics.

Despite the failed petition, the school’s officials, along with the football coaches, parents and players, decided back in March they would still play in Division III. But East Hampton varsity head coach Joe McKee contacted Vasile-Cozzo to discus the low numbers a few days ago, then the two met on Wednesday afternoon, along with Superintendent Rich Burns and others, and the decision came to cancel this upcoming fall season for both varsity and JV; the middle school is expected to field a team this season.

“We could have brought up a few kids to varsity from JV, but the reality of it is you’re not putting the kids in a safe environment by doing that,” Vasile-Cozzo said. “So the decision was made by all of us to cancel the season, then Joe went to speak to the kids last night about it.”

The decision to not play is strictly for this season but the future of the football program at East Hampton—which canceled its season in 2014 as well—is certainly at a crossroads. Vasile-Cozzo, McKee and others involved in the program worked tirelessly this offseason to recruit players and build numbers. “And with all that hard work, we still ended up with low numbers,” Vasile-Cozzo said.

“I feel for the kids. I’m very disappointed,” he added. “I tried hard to work with Conference IV, I met with the Section, I went through the whole process—I wanted this to work.”

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Two soccer teams...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 24, 17 4:08 PM
Is this true? I can definitely see a correlation between the increase in popularity in soccer and the decrease in football due to safety reasons. They're both American traditions so it would be a shame to lose one over the other.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Aug 25, 17 1:16 PM
Maybe they can now focus on the valedictorian and salutatorian.
Oh wait, they still honor theirs.
By deepchanel (89), Southampton on Aug 24, 17 4:51 PM
To bad these kids can't put down their cell long enough to play... maybe it's to tough for them....feel sorry for the athletes who are are denied their chance to play...
By unclemilt (57), southampton on Aug 24, 17 6:00 PM
1 member liked this comment

When the " teenager" is no longer a teenager...one looks back to a clock that has passed with speed that was unforeseen.
Both those who did participate in competitive athletics..
And those who chose not to...
Have memories.
Those who didn't, with regret, wonder what could have been, and exactly what it was that occupied their time.
Those who did, look back fondly exaggerating greatly their accomplishments on the field of play.
Maybe, above and beyond are the friendships ...more
By kahuna (70), Tampa on Aug 24, 17 7:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
A harbinger of things to come. In 10 years most small schools will not be fielding teams. As more is learned about the impact on the brain from even just of a few years of repetitive sub concussive hits to the head, it will be tougher to field teams.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Aug 24, 17 7:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
Whatever 20 MPH speed limits through Sag Harbor and SH, Towns closing down all the bars, mandatory seat belts for adults, zero tolerance driving (people scared to have a glass of wine with dinner), helmets while riding a bicycle, sports deemed to dangerous to play. At what point do one start to wonder is this " safe" life worth living
By Ditch Bum (929), Water Mill on Aug 24, 17 8:25 PM
Anyone know if my son who was planning on playing for EH this season could be eligible to play for SH?
By PHXS (1), East hampton on Aug 25, 17 3:00 AM
1 member liked this comment
It would absolutely be a great thing to have the kids bussed over to play with SH. Playing sports has many benefits. Learning about team work is a valuable and important life lesson , even if some find it to be a dopey sport. Learning to welcome students from another school , an even better life lesson.
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Aug 25, 17 6:44 AM
HI- it would be great if he could-- but as you will recall, EHHS was moved from league 4 to league 3 this year. League 3 is with bigger more competitive western suffolk schools. EHHS tried to get our boys moved back to league 4 for safety reasons. they even said they were willing to forgo playoff eligibility. But the small thinking officials of section xi denied this petition because they'd rather have a few extra easy wins against east hampton on their score sheet rather than protect our kids ...more
By jackiemay (23), east hampton on Aug 25, 17 10:45 AM
It's a dopey sport anyway.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Aug 25, 17 5:39 AM
Not everyone can be a keyboard jockey.
By Pacman (273), Southampton on Aug 25, 17 10:19 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Aug 25, 17 8:54 AM
jackiemay, what are the safety concerns you speak about?
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 25, 17 12:01 PM
2 members liked this comment
yes please tell us what the H your talking about please
By Ditch Bum (929), Water Mill on Aug 25, 17 12:43 PM
EHHS had only 14 kids come out for the team -- and several of those were young. EHHS was moved into league 3 this year by section XI -- a much more competitive league than league 4 where we were. per athletic director and coaches - was not safe for our kids to play with 14 kids in that league. you just need more than 14 for a varsity football team. while disappointing for the players, the AD and Coaches did not make this difficult decision lightly.
By jackiemay (23), east hampton on Aug 26, 17 9:55 AM
East Hampton needs another coach Burns. At the end of the season in my son's sophomore year, he said to coach Burns he wanted to play football the next season but wanted to start working out now. Burns worked with him three days a week in the weight room. By his junior year he was benching 300 lbs., starting as defense and offense tackle. Coach kept working with him in the weight room. By his senior year he was benching 400 lbs., was one of the captains of the team and at the end of the season was ...more
By Wainscott217 (12), Wainscott on Aug 25, 17 9:18 PM
2 members liked this comment
Coach Burns was great. I didn't play football but he one of my favorite teachers at EHHS.
By Rich Morey (378), East Hampton on Aug 30, 17 1:01 PM
This is a shame. Why can't they ask if BH has some interested athletes?... Sports are what keep kids out of trouble from having to much idle time.

Are they ashamed that they'd have a Bad News Bears scenario? The number of players to take the filed is 11... and 14 showed up. If they reach rallied to ask a friend to get on board, surely they could get at least 18 to 20 to make a legitimate squad.
By Harbor Master (114), Sag Harbor on Aug 25, 17 10:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Shocking to see that you can't get enough kids to violently smash their heads into each other for weeks on end. The pros are thoroughly doped up during their games. Aspiring to be an uneducated, violent football player is a waste of time. Find a real sport.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Aug 26, 17 5:43 AM
Sorry football offends your delicate sensibilities but playing is a character building experience.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Aug 27, 17 11:26 AM
Sounds like somebody got stuffed in the locker one to many times
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Aug 26, 17 12:30 PM
2 members liked this comment
Those who wanted to play can play for another HS. It's in the section XI rules. If you school doesn't offer a sport you want to play the student can play else where.
By 1640sWhaler (74), Sag Harbor/Easthampton on Aug 26, 17 7:40 PM
Football is a violent contact sport. That is why they start conditioning early and get into shape. Football gear is made to absorb contact, schools are buying the best gear.
All athletes cannot play table tennis, tennis,golf or bowl... I enjoyed playing football for rival Southampton.
Yes, many pro players take drugs and enhancing products. High schoolers must pass a physical and drug test...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 28, 17 12:44 PM
Did East Hampton HS think about opening up the team to players from nearby school districts that don't have their own football teams but might have kids that would want to play? I'm thinking Sag harbor or maybe Bridgehampton for example. I'd hate to see the school and the kids loose such a program.
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Aug 28, 17 1:19 PM
2 members liked this comment
Seems like local parents want football more than local kids.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Aug 28, 17 2:17 PM
2 members liked this comment
As far as "combining" with other schools, the East Hampton Football program is combined with Bridgehampton for the current 2017 season, and Pierson (Sag Harbor) is combined with Southampton. These agreements are made 9-12 months in advance and cannot be changed during the season. League and schedules are determined well in advance of the season start date.
By MonkeyBell (1), Sag Harbor on Aug 28, 17 6:05 PM
East Hampton is getting exactly what they asked for. As a parent of a Sag Harbor kid, who has since graduated and ALL THE SPORTS HE PLAYED were combined with East Hampton, There was one time and I repeat only one team where he ever felt welcome. and that would be swimming with coach Brierley!! Every other team and coach made you feel as you were an outsider and not welcomed! As well as the die hard BONAC parents. they quiet frankly the worst. I will leave out names... but a few of the "STARS" ...more
By J. Totta (106), Sag Harbor on Aug 29, 17 9:01 AM